FTC Issues Multi Level Marketing (MLM) Guidance

On January 4th of 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a document, entitled “Business Guidance Concerning Mutli-Level Marketing.” This Guidance relates to Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) practices and addresses how these businesses can ensure their compliance with the FTC Act.

Multi-Level marketing is often used in the dietary supplement and cosmetics industry. Sellers become a Multi “level” marketer because they market and distribute a certain product through a chain of individuals, such as with HerbaLife and Young Living. While the MLM model may be a useful tool for companies to market products quickly and efficiently, regulations pertaining to advertising and marketing, such as those enforced by the FDA and FTC still apply.

Prompted by recent events, like the actions taken against HerbaLife International, the FTC Guidance aims to provide a better understanding of the FTC’s expectation for the MLM businesses and the responsibilities that these companies have when it comes to marketing their products. In particular, one of the main components the Guidance addresses is how MLMs should establish compliance programs aimed at ensuring the companies maintain oversight into the sales activities of their teams. These compliance programs should include constant supervision of the distributors of the product, to confirm that they are abiding by the applicable policies and procedures, specifically those associated with claims, sales validation, and other consumer protection-oriented policies.

This new Guidance equips businesses with FTC’s current thinking on what is in conformity with the FTC Act. To ensure businesses are complying with the rules and regulation put forth by the FTC, it is important for businesses to reexamine their practices and to create compliance programs or revise existing programs for compliance with the FTC Act and FTC MLM Guidance.

Should you need assistance with developing a plan for compliance with FTC’s MLM policies or have questions about marketing laws and regulations, please contact us at contact@giannamore-law.com.

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